“We will fight with you,” Alin said taking a step towards him.
Vasile had not realized that he had spoken out loud. He looked at each of the faces of the men now all staring at him with nearly glowing eyes. “You could die.”
“”Why are we warriors if not for such a time as this?” Nicu asked.
Vasile’s eyes glowed bright wolf blue as he looked at him. “True enough, and warriors we are. We will not go quietly into the night. Though I understand the anger the pack will have at my parents, I cannot have them making foolish decisions based on their emotions.
“Then let us fight,” Ion told him. “We must stand strong to keep our pack together.”
“Aye,” both Alin and Nicu said at the same time, agreeing with the warrior.
“So be it,” Vasile said gravely. He had a bad feeling about this, and yet he could not back down. Alphas did not stay Alphas because they walked away when things got tough. They deserved to be Alphas because they did what was necessary even in the most dire of situations. They stuck, they stood until they could not stand any more, and even then they did not concede. Only if it was to protect another did they ever back down because protecting their own was the only thing more important than maintaining control of the pack, which might be jeopardized if an Alpha was seen backing down from a challenge.
“I hope that I can live a life worthy of your loyalty,” he told them as he motioned for them to stand and then once again headed for the door. “We know who our enemy is. We know what he wants. Let us not keep him waiting any longer.”
Ion followed behind Vasile watching his Alpha closely for any sign that the separation from his mate would interfere with his ability to fight because there was definitely a fight ahead of them. And more than likely lives were about to be lost.
Vasile pushed apart the doors of the castle that opened into the courtyard. The voices that had been calling out, yelling and growling, suddenly stopped, and the entire area was plunged into near silence. Only the sound of the wind whispering through the leaves and the occasional chirp of a bird could be heard. He stepped out onto the highest step that allowed him to look out at everyone and scanned the crowd slowly until his eyes landed on Emilian. The Beta stood directly in front of the two coffins where his parents lay. His relaxed shoulders, loose stance, and the slight smirk on his lips told Vasile that the Beta knew there was nothing Vasile could say to salvage the situation. Then the Beta shifted his position and Vasile saw his mother’s back, bare for all to see all and completely free of any markings. Any sense of staying calm fled. How dare this male think he could violate his mother’s resting place, not matter what the reason? How dare he think to shame him, as if he did not feel enough shame without someone rubbing his face in the choice his parents made―wrong or right. Nicu, Ion, and Alin must have felt the shift in his emotions because they were suddenly standing at the ready next to him.
“What have….” Those were the only two words Emilian got out before Vasile lunged. His fist connected with Emilian’s face with satisfying crunch.
He did not let go completely; he could not. He was pretty sure that if he ever let his wolf lose, especially after having been so long separated from Alina, he would never regain control of him. He heard the yells and snarls around him, and yet he continued to hit Emilian in the face. The Beta seemed to gather himself after the surprise of being attacked and then began his own assault on Vasile. The first punch that met his cheek stung, but it only served to enrage his wolf and the man further. He felt the wolf in him stirring, pushing to take over more and more of the fight. His focus was so centered on the Beta that he barely noticed the fighting going on around him.
He spared a quick glance and saw Ion and Nicu move past him, each engaging other wolves he didn’t immediately recognize in that moment. He knew they could hold their own, and so he continued to keep all of his attention on his opponent. He did not know how long they fought. He felt blood spilling from various lacerations on his face and felt the exhaustion in his muscles, but still he continued to meet Emilian punch for punch. Not until there was a loud whistle did Vasile finally relent and step back just as Emilian did as well.
The smirk that was still on the Beta’s face told Vasile that he had somehow been out maneuvered. Vasile looked up at the faces around him and saw the shock and fear and worry in his pack mates' faces. Then he noticed that there were at least seven unmated females, some still underage, surrounded by Emilian’s men. “I did not want to have to do this, but then I knew you would not walk away quietly no matter what your pack wanted. Leave willingly and I will let these females live,” he said and motioned to where the women stood. “Continue to fight and you will watch them die…slowly.”
Vasile growled as he met the Beta’s eyes. Emilian could not hold the gaze for more than a few seconds before he looked away. Vasile then turned to the crowd. “This is what you want?” He motioned to Emilian and then his men. “This is the kind of leader you want, a tyrant? One who cares only for his own skin?”
“We want an honest one,” a female called out.
Vasile shook his head and looked back at Emilian. “You are lucky I do not kill you for the disrespect you have shown my parents, especially my mother. I will step down because I will not have their deaths on my hands, but know that this is not over. You will not hold this pack; you are not capable.” Vasile growled.
“Maybe,” Emilian said as he spit blood from his mouth. “But then I was capable enough to take it from you. Was I not? There is a lot to say for resourcefulness, Vasile. That is a lesson you have yet to learn.”
“Does your Alpha know what you have done?” he asked the Beta, not having to even raise his voice because of the stifling silence. “Does he know that you took information that was not yours to take and then used it for your own selfish gain? Does he know you betrayed him?”
“The strong survive, Vasile Lupei. I am simply doing what it takes to survive and to ensure that this pack survives. Your father’s treachery has left this pack in shambles. I did what was necessary.”
Vasile nodded slowly. “Perhaps, you are correct, but only a fool thinks that how he obtains his victory does not matter.”
“YOUR PARENTS LIED ABOUT THEIR BOND!” Emilian suddenly snarled, interrupting the Alpha and causing those around him to jump. “What does it matter how I become the new Alpha? What matters is that the treachery that has been brought to light in your bloodline be brought to an end. You see the lies do not always end with the ones who started them, sometimes they follow all those in the bloodline.” Emilian paused and turned to look at the crowd. “Is it true Vasile Lupei that you have found your true mate? You found her in a village on the furthest outskirts of your territory and yet failed to tell anyone in your pack?” There were gasps in all direction from the members of his pack as they stared up at him in shock.